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October 16, 2020
Book Cover Design
by Wendy Dean

Whoever said, “Never judge a book by its cover,” must never have had to sell one. As your number one marketing tool, your book cover design must be polished and professional. 

Here are 7 tips for self-pub authors to ensure your book cover stands up to the competition.


Hire a professional designer.

I really can’t stress this enough. AND, this isn’t just any graphic designer. It should be someone who creates book covers for a living. This individual should be able to offer a full, custom cover, not simply a template. Find out if they have experience with book covers in your genre and ask to see those creations. Remember, you get what you pay for. Be sure to conduct your due diligence.

Choose a distinct style.

Be unique without overwhelming the reader with a cluttered, disorganized cover. You want to set the right tone and make sure your message is clearly understandable. This can be a tricky balance. An experienced designer can help you get your message across and leave the reader wanting more. 

Explore your local bookstores and online sales channels.

Browse the top-selling titles in your genre for patterns. Look at colors, fonts, layouts, and images. Above all, you want to balance standing out with looking like you fit into your genre. For instance, cookbooks typically have food or cooking related images on their covers, not ghostly images. 

Pro-Tip: Consider the Cover Size – In today’s market your book will be sold through online sales channels. Your book will be displayed in thumbnail size and needs to look as impressive here as on the bookstore shelf.

Be clear and concise in your contract.

Don’t assume that the designer knows what’s in your head. Put everything in writing: timeline, payment, must haves, number of edits, etc. Make sure your designer checks off all the boxes. 

Choose fonts wisely.

Not all typefaces are created equal. Be sure that it’s pleasing to the eye and comes in a variety of weights and options. Keep it to two typefaces to avoid making your cover look messy. 

Pro Tip: Not all fonts are free. Check the license agreement and purchase the correct one. Often there are separate agreements for print versus digital. Ask the designer if the fonts require a license.

Brand covers in a series.

Keep a few elements the same, like fonts, typography, colors, and images. This strengthens your overall brand, giving your series a clean, recognizable look.

Understand what booksellers require on the cover.

First, you must have an ISBN and barcode on the back cover. Secondly, most booksellers will require a printed price above the bar code. In addition, there are few, if any, booksellers who will carry your book without a properly formatted spine. 

Attracting readers is the primary goal of your book cover. If you can create an attention grabbing cover that also contributes to building your overall brand, you are well on your way to success!

If you need assistance designing your book cover, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Author Services division at [email protected]. Our designers are ready to help you achieve your dream!


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